By Nick Harris
14 November 2010
John Higgins completed the perfect return to competitive snooker this evening by winning the first event he’s played since April. The former world No1 won the final of Euro Players Tour Championship in Hamm, Germany by beating Shaun Murphy 4-2.
The final was Higgins’ seventh match since Friday; he also beat Joe Jogia, Dave Harold, Martin Gould, Tom Ford, Anthony Hamilton and Graeme Dott before meeting Murphy. As a dream comeback it ticked all the boxes.
The event was minor in the grand scheme of things but the winner’s cheque was 10,000 euros, and the win brings with it 2,000 ranking points. Most importantly for the 35-year-old Scot – following his ban and fine for failing to report an approach about fixing frames by uncover reporters from a tabloid newspaper – it proved he remains competitive.
Higgins, three times a world champion, was effectively cleared of match-fixing (the most serious charges were dropped) in September; he had been suspended since the start of May following a News of the World sting operation had culminated with him being filmed apparently agreeing to lose frames at unspecified – and fictional – future events.
An independent tribunal hearing, chaired by Ian Mill QC, found that Higgins never intended to fix any match (ruling here).
Higgins did not pick up a cue between being banned (primarily for failing to report the incident) and being cleared. The tribunal verdict coincided with Higgins’ father, John Snr, being told his cancer was terminal.